Thursday, November 1, 2012

Brief Moments of Honesty from Otherwise Dishonest People

            Your band sucks. Even through cell phone speakers, barely audible in a crowded bar, she realizes this truth, but her mouth is bound by courtesy. Your band is fucking terrible. It’s all she can think, anticipating the moment when the timer on his iPhone playlist reaches 0:00. She no longer notices the smell of sweat, the distressing and dank atmosphere of her surroundings, the heat, the discomfort of the wooden stool beneath her. All other senses are overridden by the noise, the clamor of countless other conversations around her and the I-IV-V chord progression playing faintly underneath them. Is he bobbing his head to his own song? He can’t be …
“What do you think”
            “What do I think?”
            “Of the song?”
            “I can’t really hear it.”
            “Do you like it?”
            “It’s good.”       
            “What do you think of this solo?”
            “This is a solo?”
            “Well, it’s more like a bridge section, I guess.”
            “A bridge… it’s, uh, well, you couldn’t walk on it.”
            “That’s good?”
            “What’s good?”
            “This solo?”
“Do you, uh, like music?”
“Of course. I was in my high school’s choir.”           
“Yeah, I’ve been doing this band since before I can remember.”
“In the womb?”
“Were you in the band as a fetus?”
“I don’t think that’s possible.”
“It was a joke.”
“Oh, that’s funny.”
I want to have sex with you. Dirty, violent, unconstitutional sex. His eyes fight dignity so that they may stare at her cleavage, but he manages to hold strong, looking directly into her pupils—perhaps, creepily so. He peers through her, the image of her breasts pasted over her face with same level of class that a junior high student demonstrates when he spray paints a penis on the side of a building. The world need not remind him of his indecency. He reminds himself with each passing thought. So lonely … so very lonely …
She searches for an out, hoping a bomb might explode in the corner of the bar, but luck never acts in her favor. Soon, silence takes control. She wishes he would just stare at her tits, ejaculate into a napkin and leave, but he seems determined to impress her, to earn something more at the end of the night. I better say something before he starts talking about his band again.
            “Do you come here often?”
He had spent every Friday and Saturday night here over the last two years. Not expecting to score, mind you. He knows this place too well to have that kind of hope. Of course, he tells her, “I’ve been here once or twice before.”
“My father brought me here once when I was 13. Oddly enough, I was hit on then too,” she notices him blush and moves on, “He died recently, so I’m on a sort of spiritual walkabout.”
“I’m sorry for your loss.”
“I think I’m supposed to be.”
“You might have met him. I think he had a cot here. Charles Robinson, though he went by Charlie. I called him Charles out of spite, of course.”
            “Oh! Charlie! He tried to strangle me in the men’s room once,” he pauses, “He was a, uh, good man.”
“Thanks, I know he wasn’t. He did have a thing for choking though. When I was young, he would wake me up some mornings by smothering me with a pillow. Only when I was just about to run out of air did he stop. He got such a kick out of seeing me gasp.”
“Yeah, My father was kind of asshole too. I wrote a song ab—”
“Mom always had these weird, red marks on her neck. I never asked about them, but I started to figure it out of course…”
“What are you trying to find?”
“Excuse me?”
“On your walkabout.”
“I don’t know. Validation about my father’s choking fetish?”
“You think he got off while he was strangling me?”
“He probably did.”
“Maybe, I can accompany you on your walkabout.”
“I’d rather you didn’t.”
“It’s not you. It’s, y’know, a personal journey.”
“Of course, of course.”
“Well, I’ve got to go see a man about a coffin.”
“Me too.”
“You too?”
“I don’t know why I said that.”
“Well, goodbye …” Shit, he said his name, didn’t he? Mark? “Mark.”
“Michael, actually. I’ll see you around.”
He watches as she walks away, peeling the label off his beer bottle. It had taken him two of those and a self-inflicted punch to the groin to muster the courage to approach her. That went well. His right hand would be Julie tonight. 

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